Building Innovation One Block at a Time

Perhaps one of the most common pitfalls of would-be innovators is that they try to build an innovation program in one fell swoop. Innovation, like any other business competency, has many discrete parts that must ultimately be successful in order for an innovation program to really take off.

As the global economy shows signs of recovery, managers are beginning to turn their attention back to innovation and rebuilding their businesses in an entirely new and different marketplace. In doing so, it’s critical to evaluate your organization’s innovation program not as a whole—but as a series of steps and functions. Does your organization struggle with generating ideas or executing them? Are employees in your organization isolated from one another or are they easily able to collaborate across departments and functions? Does your organization have a clear innovation strategy given the vast changes that have occurred over the last year?

Sit down with your team and reflect on each individual aspect of your innovation program. Break down the larger concept of ‘innovation’ and decide which tracks you need to focus on to improve your program as a whole.

By building—or rebuilding—your innovation program one block at a time, you’ll realize successes more quickly, have an easier time measuring progress, and will be better able to evaluate your efforts and make adjustments over time. Most importantly, you’ll avoid the inevitable struggle that comes with trying to build something as amorphous as innovation.

What building blocks for innovation will you focus on over the next few months?

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2 Responses to Building Innovation One Block at a Time

  1. Lynn Jackson says:

    Why not learn from Pixar? As we write in Innovate the Pixar Way, Pixar’s “brain trust”,
    is a group of eight direcctors and anyone else they think would be valuable to comment on the current version of work in progress. This involves a two-hour give-and-take discussion, and it’s all about making a film better. As president Ed Catmull explained, “after a session, it’s up to the director of the movie and his or her team to decide what to do with the advice; there are no mandatory notes, and the brain trust has no authoroity.” If your company does not or will not form a formal brain trust, form your own. All you need is a group of fellow “radical, free-thinking activists who are wiling to drream big. Innovation begins with dreamers!

  2. Peter J says:

    With innovation there’s also the mundane. Tasks that need to be done, but they aren’t interesting. Are these the ones to outsource? Or as part of the innovation process do we need such tight control that even the mundane must remain in control?

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